Karen Khachanov is the defending champion at the Rolex Paris Masters (PA Images)
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal gather to attempt to stop Daniil Medvedev winning a third straight Masters 1000 Series event in Paris.
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The battle for no. 1, a seven-way scrap for the two remaining places at the Nitto ATP Finals and Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer trying to stop Daniil Medvedev from winning a third straight Masters 1000 Series title – the Rolex Paris Masters doesn’t lack for intrigue.
The draw has only heightened that intrigue. Djokovic, who is hoping to put pressure on Nadal as they duel for the year-end world no. 1 ranking, has been fortunate that Federer and Nadal are together in the bottom half but is on a quarterfinal collision course with Stefanos Tsitsipas and the seemingly unstoppable Medvedev awaits in the semifinals.
Federer and Nadal could meet in the semifinals while Nadal could also be set for early clashes with Stan Wawrinka, Matteo Berrettini and defending champion Karen Khachanov.
Meanwhile, Alexander Zverev and Berrettini must try to defend their current qualifying positions in the Race to London from Wawrinka, Khachanov and John Isner – all of whom need to win the title to qualify – and David Goffin and Roberto Bautista Agut.
We break down the draw and predict the semifinalists.
Projected quarterfinal: Novak Djokovic (1) vs Stefanos Tsitsipas (6) (1-2)
Four-time Rolex Paris Masters champion Djokovic could have an opportunity to avenge his Shanghai Masters defeat to Tsitsipas and level the head-to-head ahead of the Nitto ATP Finals, for which both are qualified.
Djokovic last triumphed in Paris in 2015 but was runner-up to Khachanov 12 months ago and he certainly has plenty of incentive to win the title this time – while he can’t avoid relinquishing the no. 1 ranking to Nadal a week on Monday, if he wins the title in Paris he can put massive pressure on Nadal’s result at the ATP Finals, a tournament where Djokovic has a much better record than Nadal.
It’s not at all a bad draw for Djokovic either, who opens against Dusan Lajovic or perpetual pigeon Richard Gasquet with Diego Schwartzman, little threat to Djokovic on this surface, in the third round.
Tsitsipas is on a good run of form, having made the final in Beijing and the semifinals in Shanghai and Basel (where he is yet to play Federer at the time of writing), but surely fatigue becomes a question for the young Greek at some point this week. It’s unlikely to be an issue for him against Frances Tiafoe or Taylor Fritz but Roberto Bautista Agut – a London hopeful who’s had bad luck running into big servers over the past few weeks – could be a much more threatening opponent, should he himself get past Alex de Minaur in a second-round rematch of the Zhuhai semifinal de Minaur won 6-2, 6-2 a few weeks ago.
Projected quarterfinal: Daniil Medvedev (4) vs Dominic Thiem (5) (2-1)
Medvedev has been the man to beat in the second half of this season, compiling an extraordinary 29-3 win-loss record since Wimbledon and making the final of the last six tournaments he played, winning three of them.
Champion at the last two Masters 1000 Series events in Cincinnati and Shanghai, Medvedev is on a nine-match winning streak and he has quite a nice draw in Paris too. Opening against Guido Pella or a qualifier, Medvedev’s first big test could be against former Paris finalist John Isner in the third round, but Isner has barely won a match off American soil in 2019 and is a brand-new father.
Things are a bit more interesting in the bottom section of this quarter. ATP Finals hopeful David Goffin needs a big run, but could immediately find himself in trouble against Grigor Dimitrov, while fifth seed Thiem – a Paris semifinalist in 2018, and currently playing some good tennis, having secured the Beijing title and made the semifinals at least in Vienna – could potentially have some difficulties with the injury-decimated but always dangerous Milos Raonic in the second round, An early exit for Thiem after his Vienna exertions would not surprise – but would clear the way even further for Medvedev.
Projected quarterfinal: Alexander Zverev (6) vs Roger Federer (3) (4-3)
A semifinalist in 2018 when he played the Paris Masters for the first time in four years, Federer has been in action in Basel this week but his rather breezy run to the semifinals – two very one-sided wins and a walkover from Stan Wawrinka – should leave him with plenty of energy left for Bercy.
With Radu Albot, who he crushed in Basel, a potential opening opponent and Gael Monfils in the third round, Federer’s route to the quarterfinals looks rather clear.
Alexander Zverev, who is desperately trying to make it back to the ATP Finals where he is the defending champion, can’t afford any slip-ups this week like the one he had in Basel, where he lost his opening match to an inferior player in Taylor Fritz despite looking like he had got his mojo back after his Shanghai runner-up finish, which included a win over Federer.
And yet the German is in a quarter packed with dangerous players, from an opener against Borna Coric or Fernando Verdasco to a potential third-round clash with Fabio Fognini or Stockholm champion Denis Shapovalov. It’s not ideal.
Projected quarterfinal: Karen Khachanov (8) vs Rafael Nadal (2) (0-6)
Guaranteed to return to world no. 1 a week on Monday, Nadal can ensure that he ends the year that way, putting the top spot totally out of Djokovic’s reach, by winning the title in Paris – but that’s something he’s never managed to do. He hasn’t reached the final since 2007, and has only played the tournament four times in the last decade, most recently in 2017 when he gave Filip Krajinovic a walkover in the quarterfinals.
Playing his first tournament since the US Open after pulling out of Shanghai with hand inflammation, Nadal does seem to be intending to play in Bercy as he’s been spotted practicing today with Djokovic. He opens against Adrian Mannarino and could face Stan Wawrinka in the third round – but Wawrinka looks unlikely to be fit after giving up that quarterfinal walkover in Basel due to a back injury, and it’s more likely that Nadal might face Marin Cilic, a good indoors player but something of a shadow of himself in 2019, during which he has struggled with knee injuries and gone 21-18.
So it’s a better draw for Nadal than it might appear – but the top half of this quarter is packed. Matteo Berrettini, who has played so well of late with runs to the semifinals of Shanghai and Vienna, needs wins in Paris to secure that London spot but he will have to go some to get them. He’s got Andrey Rublev or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to open followed by a likely third-round clash against Khachanov. Berrettini is playing some great tennis of late but with the fatigue factor, Nadal will get him if his early opponents don’t. This actually looks like a gilt-edged opportunity for Nadal’s best Paris run since making the semifinals in 2013.
Djokovic d. Medevedev
Federer d. Nadal
Djokovic d. Federer
Rolex Paris Masters tennis is live from Paris from 28 October-3 November 2019
Rolex Paris Masters 2019 draw preview and predictions: Battle for London and no. 1 ramps up in Bercy
Novak Djokovic, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal gather to attempt to stop Daniil Medvedev winning a third straight Masters 1000…
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